COCOBOD financial loss case: Application to stay proceedings dismissed

An Accra High Court hearing the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and Seidu Agongo, and one other, on Wednesday, dismissed a motion to stay proceedings pending an interlocutory appeal at the Court of Appeal.

The court, presided by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge sitting as an additional High Court Judge, said upon a perusal of the documents filed, “It is the view of the court that the grant of the application will further delay the trial.”

He said that granting of application to stay proceedings was discretionary, and that a notice of appeal was not enough grounds to stay proceedings.

Justice Honyenugah indicated that the case before the court was not only about the form of Lithovit fertiliser, but a number of charges were levelled against the accused.

The motion was filed by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, lawyer for Dr Opuni, the first accused, after the court had rejected the tendering of a document through the prosecution witness.

The lawyer in moving the motion, said his client has filed a motion for stay and wished to rely on all the paragraphs therein.

Mr Cudjoe told the court that the document emanated from lawful custody, and was authentic by the court in its ruling.

Mr Cudjoe said, “It’s our submissions that the court stay proceedings and allow the Court of Appeal to determine our appeal, so that in an event that the appeal is in our favour, the court will then continue the trial.”

He said because Mrs Stella Ohene Appiah, Senior State Attorney, had sworn affidavit in opposition, she could not be the same lawyer to speak for the prosecution.

In response, Mrs Appiah said she did not hide her identity as a lawyer at the Attorney-General’s (A-G) Department and “if called anytime, I can answer to anything in the affidavits, because I am capable’’.

Mrs Appiah said the prosecution was opposed to the motion as filed in their affidavits and duly relied on them.

She said the counsel has not shown any special circumstances that should warrant a stay of proceeding pending the determination of the appeal.

The Senior State Attorney said a document must be tendered through the appropriate witness.

She said the mere expectation that an interlocutory injunction would succeed was no ground for the grant of stay.

The trial judge, in his ruling, said the affidavits filed by the Senior State Attorney were done on behalf of the A-G and not as a witness in the case.

“She did state clearly in the affidavits that she was acting on the authority of the A-G,” Justice Honyenugah said.

On Wednesday, July 10, the court upheld an objection raised by the prosecution in the case involving Dr Opuni, and Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited, for a document to be tendered through its witness.

The documents sought to be tendered through the prosecution witness was a letter signed by one Dr Opoku-Ameyaw.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The court adjourned the trial to Monday October 7, for continuation. – GNA

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